Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: y’all (3).

Today: “You all.” Many speakers in the South and Southwest, even highly educated ones, use the uncontracted “you all” as the plural form of “you.” This is a convenient usage, since “you” alone can be either singular or plural — and therefore is sometimes ambiguous. True, “you all” is unlikely to spread beyond regional usage. But speakers who (like the author of this book) grew up with the phrase won’t be easily dispossessed of it. It’s handy, and it’s less susceptible to raised eyebrows than “y’all.” There is, however, a noticeable tendency in urban areas to replace this phrase with “you guys,” even if those addressed include females. One Texas writer calls “you guys” a “horrid Yankee construction.” Steve Blow, “What’s Up with Y’all?” Dallas Morning News, 27 Sept. 2002, at A25. This may have resulted from the great influx of a geographically diverse population in major cities such as Dallas throughout the 1980s and 1990s, coupled with a growing sense among natives that “you all” and “y’all” signal provincialism. For information about the Language Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “The connexion of each paragraph with that which precedes and that which follows it should be at once apparent. Though . . . the paragraph may in one sense be regarded as complete in itself, it is complete only as each link in a chain is complete.” A. Cruse, English Composition 29 (1923).
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